Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Moral Virologist - Greg Egan

Short Story

Number of words : 5800
Percent of complex words : 13.6
Average syllables per word : 1.6
Average words per sentence : 16.7


Fog : 12.1
Flesch : 56.8
Flesch-Kincaid : 9.5


Matthew Shawcross

A religious fundamentalist media baron.

John Shawcross

His son, a religious fundamentalist virus producer with a PhD in Molecular Biology.


A physicist.

William Paley

A christian apologist.


Finds the law in Shawcross' work when he pays for her time.



USA city, in Georgia.


Major population centre in Japan.


Major population centre in China.


Major population centre in South Korea.


Major population centre in Thailand.


Major population centre in the Phillipines.


Major population centre in Australia.

New Delhi

Major population centre in India.


Major population centre in Egypt.


Major city in England.


Major city in Ireland.


Province of Canada.



Discarded by Shawcross as a discipline in favour of Molecular Biology.


Ribonucleic acid. An essential building block of life.



Shawcross Virus A. Highly infectious, but utterly benign. It would reproduce within a variety of host cells in the skin and mucous membranes, without causing disruption to normal cellular functions. Its protein coat had been designed so that every exposed site mimicked some portion of a naturally occurring human protein; the immune system, being necessarily blind to these substances.


Shawcross Virus C. The second form of the Shawcross Virus. SVC would be able to survive only in blood, semen and vaginal fluids.


Shawcross Virus M. Upon reinfecting T-cells, SVC would be capable of making an "informed decision" as to what the next generation would be. Like SVA, it would create a genetic fingerprint of its host cell and compare this with its stored copy. If both were identical - proving that the customised strain had remained within the body in which it had begun - its daughters would be SVC. If the fingerprints failed to match, implying that the strain had now crossed into another person's body (and he two hosts were not of the same sex), the daughter virus would be a third variety, SVM, containing both fingerprints.


Shawcross Virus D. The fourth form. It could come from SVC directly, when the gender markers implied that a homosexual act had taken place, or from SVM, when the detection of a third genetic fingerprint suggested that the molecular marriage contract had been violated. SVD forced its host cells to secrete enzymes that catalysed the disintegration of vital proteins in blood vessel walls. Victims would undergo massive haemorrhaging all over their body.



USA university in Boston.


The son of a religious fundamentalist media baron is inspired by AIDs to invent a virus that can cause death after homosexual sex and after non-monogamous sex. He goes around the world to spread it.

He has a habit of paying prostitutes to resist temptation, and in this case does it to talk to one of them. She points out a flaw in his work. Babies are genetically different to both parents, so the virus will work on them. Mothers will only be able to breastfeed for a month until death.

He thinks of turning himself in and is briefly despondent, until realising he can work with this.

4 out of 5§ion=fiction

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